AstraZeneca on Thursday said its Covid-19 prophylaxis drug is 83% effective in reducing the risk of symptomatic Covid-19 infections six months after being given, signaling that the antibody cocktail could be used as an effective means of preventing severe disease in individuals who may not develop a robust immune response to Covid-19 vaccines.
According to AstraZeneca, the antibody therapy called AZD7442 was also 88% effective in reducing the risk of severe Covid-19 or death when administered to Covid-19 infected patients within three days of symptom onset.
A separate follow-up of the prophylaxis’ phase three trials showed that the drug eliminated the risk of severe Covid-19 and deaths among all recipients over six months after a dose was administered.
The drugmaker noted that the trials used a 300-milligram dose of AZD7442 administered into the muscle to individuals who had not been exposed to Covid-19.
The antibody cocktail could prove to be an effective tool to protect people who may not develop a robust immune response after receiving Covid-19 vaccines.
AstraZeneca’s chief of research and development, Mene Pangalos, said: “AZD7442 is the only long-acting antibody with Phase III data to demonstrate benefit in both pre-exposure prophylaxis and treatment of Covid-19 with one dose.”
700,000. That’s the total number of doses of the antibody-drug that AstraZeneca has agreed to supply to the U.S. government in case it receives emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The company sought FDA emergency approval for the drug back in October.
AstraZeneca’s data from a fresh trial of the drug among already infected Covid-19 patients is encouraging, as a previous post-exposure trial in June suggested that AZD7442 failed to prevent symptoms. The June trial showed that the antibody cocktail was only 33% effective in individuals exposed to the virus—even including exposed individuals who tested negative—compared to a placebo. But Thursday’s announcement suggests that injection may prove to help reduce the severity of the disease in individuals who are already exposed. Despite encouraging numbers, AstraZeneca’s drug will likely have to show a significantly higher level of effectiveness than Merck and Pfizer’s antiviral pills which have also demonstrated the ability to significantly reduce the risk of deaths and severe disease in high-risk individuals. Antiviral pills are relatively cheaper and easier to produce compared to antibody treatments like AZD7442. Additionally, such pills can be administered orally to patients outside hospitals, making them a highly effective tool in places with limited healthcare infrastructure.
By Siladitya Ray, Forbes Staff